Connecticut Huskies (23-5 SU, 17-10 ATS) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (19-10 SU, 12-10-1 ATS), 7:00 p.m. EST, Wednesday, March 3, 2010, Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center, South Bend, Ind. TV: ESPN
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Connecticut Pick’em/Notre Dame Pick’em
It doesn’t get much more important than this. First week of March, last week of regular season, two bubble teams fighting for their lives. The Uconn Huskies will face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Wednesday in what is basically an elimination game. The loser will likely have to go deep in the Big East tournament to receive an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament. The winner may only need a win or two in the conference tournament. Both of these teams should be ready to play as hard as they have all season long. If one of the two teams comes out slow, it could result in a trip to the NIT for that team.
Notre Dame was all but done in regards to receiving an at-large bid as recent as one week ago. The Fighting Irish had lost three games in a row, five of their last seven, and seven of their last 10. The Irish were looking at a brutal schedule down the stretch with Pitt, Georgetown, UConn and Marquette, two of which would be on the road, sitting in front of them. But the Irish, without injured star Luke Harangody, who will not play on Wednesday against UConn and is likely out for the season, had a terrific week with back-to-back wins at home over Pitt and on the road at Georgetown. Now, the Irish are right back in the mix for an at-large bid.
In their last game, the Irish won 78-64 at Georgetown on Saturday. Ben Hansbrough led the Irish with 21 points, Tim Abromaitis scored 19 points, and Carleton Scott had 17 points and nine rebounds. The Irish shot 57 percent from the field and 8-for-22 from 3-point range. They out-rebounded the Hoyas by 11 and only allowed the Hoyas to grab 15 rebounds in the entire game. Georgetown shot very well at 51 percent from the field and 8-for-18 from 3-point range, but Notre Dame’s offense and rebounding was way too strong for the Hoyas to keep up.
Like Notre Dame, Connecticut was also out of the at-large picture a little over two weeks ago. The Huskies had lost two in a row, five of their last six, and eight of their last 11. But the Huskies broke through with a huge road win at Villanova. After a road win at Rutgers, the Huskies defeated West Virginia at home to prove they deserved to be in the NCAA tournament field.
But in their last game, the Huskies lost at home to Louisville on Sunday, 78-76. Kemba Walker, who has been incredible lately for the Huskies, led the team with 28 points. Gavin Edwards had a terrific game down low with 17 points and 13 rebounds, Stanley Robinson was equally as impressive with 14 points and 13 rebounds, and Jerome Dyson chipped in with 13 points. The Huskies shot 43 percent from the field and 5-for-13 on 3-pointers. They destroyed the Cardinals on the boards, 49-21, including a 20-6 edge in offensive rebounds. But they allowed Louisville to stay in the game by turning the ball over 22 times as compared to just 11 turnovers for the Cardinals. Louisville shot 45 percent from the field and 10-for-24 from beyond the arc. With the game tied in the final seconds, Louisville’s Edgar Sosa made a driving layup with eight seconds remaining to give the Cardinals the victory.
Last time these teams met, UConn won 82-70 at home on January 2. The Huskies shot 50 percent from the field and 3-for-12 on 3-pointers, while Notre Dame shot 40 percent from the field and 8-for-22 on 3-pointers. UConn out-rebounded the Irish by 10. Robinson had 22 points and 16 rebounds for the Huskies, Dyson had 20 points and 10 assists, Edwards scored 13 points, Walker had 11 points and 10 assists, and Charles Okwandu added 10 points. Harangody, who won’t be playing this time around, had 31 points and nine boards to lead the Irish last time these teams met. Hansbrough scored 14 points, and Tyrone Nash had 11 points and eight rebounds.
UConn is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games as an underdog and 4-1 ATS in its last five games as a road underdog. Notre Dame is 1-4-1 ATS in its last six games as a favorite. The favorite is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings between these teams.
Ryno’s Pick: This game could go either way. That leaves us with choosing the total in this game which I believe the UNDER 143 presents the most value. Good luck!